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June 5, 2012


On DVD/Blu-ray – John Carter (2012)


In the past, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) fought for the South during the American Civil War. In the present, John owns a gold claim that no one seems to believe exists. On the down side, the army tries to draft him to fight in the Indian wars but he keeps running away. That is until a Martian appears in John’s cave and teleports him to Mars.

On Mars, John experiences the effects of low gravity immediately. He realizes that he can leap and bound hundreds of feet upwards or forwards, but only with some practice. Soon after he is captured and enslaved by a green, four-armed, nine-foot tall Martian race that’s at war with another Martian race that resembles Earthlings. John is forced to choose sides for the second time in his life and chooses to support the side that has a beautiful princess, while still sympathizing with the tall green aliens.

I write all of this as simply as possible because even though the film grows rather complex, plot-wise, and has a lot of alien names, cities, and races, the best way to enjoy it is in a relaxed mode and without knowing too many spoilers. You shouldn’t try to remember all of the characters’ names but rather their faces or their race. Pay no mind to the fact that while sometimes the special effects are terrific, they can also look terrible. Just sit back and enjoy John Carter, about the first superhero that North America ever offered the world.

The film is somewhat based on the novel A Princess of Mars that was published 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The character of John Carter eventually became the inspiration behind the character of Superman (“…he can leap tall buildings in a single bound!”). The rest is history.

The film’s supporting cast includes Lynn Collins as princess Dejah Thoris, Mark Strong, Dominic West, Ciarán Hinds, James Purefoy (Hinds and Purefoy both appeared as regulars in HBO’s “Rome”), Brian Cranston, and the voice talents of Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, and Thomas Haden Church.

John Carter is a fun film that didn’t deserve to bomb at the box office. Director Andrew Stanton (Wall-E) does not deliver quite as astoundingly awesome a live-action debut as his fellow Pixar alumnus Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible Ghost – Protocol) but does deliver a coherent story, good cinematography, and more than competent visual effects. John Carter is a good rental and I hope that it makes some of its money back in the video rental world because as things stand it’s in the top three biggest money losers ever list, and that’s a bloody shame.

Follow the links above and scroll down for information on the special features of the various DVD/Blu-ray combos, in order to find the version that suits you the most.

Original Commentary Track review of John Carter by Nir Shalev.

Other new releases this week: Act of Valor, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Machine Gun Preacher, Safe House

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aaron Ploof
    Jun 6 2012

    Honestly, I felt this film was extremely predictable and boring, with a bunch of nothing happening in the middle.

  2. Ken
    Jun 6 2012

    I totally agree. I saw this in the theater, as did several of my freinds. We all enjoyed it. But then, we comprise that massive, important demographic: guys who were geeky sci-fi fans in their youth who are now all grown up with jobs and families. Not exactly Hollywood’s key market. If that was the market they drew on, no wonder it bombed.

  3. Jun 6 2012

    No question “John Carter” was a flop at the box office (undeservedly so imho) but is it really the exceptional case it’s been portrayed as? I mean, look at “Battleship”: Comparable budget. Comparable box office. Huge shrug of disinterest on the part of media and entertainment establishment. I don’t trust Hollywood’s accounting first off and second, how much of the furor over “John Carter” is simply due to its bad luck in coming out first, before the summer would-be blockbusters arrived?

  4. Jun 6 2012

    I find that the reason why it’s a predictable film that drags is because of two things: the source material is 100 years old and has been copied to death so it feels cliched even though it’s the original source of some aspects, and that the screenwriters weren’t entirely faithful to the source material. If they’d adapted the film as the book was written it might have garnered an R rating and that’s just not Disney. :O)